Apparently, even Grey’s Anatomy wants to pretend season 17 never happened. Season 18 opens with a quick housekeeping note to let us know that the show will now be portraying a “fictional post-pandemic world,” and we all get it. Sure, season 17 had a good start. It felt right for a medical show to explore the effects of the pandemic on doctors. And yes, having McDreamy show up on the death beach that first time was life-affirming. But the whole thing quickly morphed into something much more exhausting. So the show never wants to speak of it again, and neither do we, and honestly my condolences to Andrew DeLuca, who deserved better and we all know it.
This season-18 premiere does feel as though things have changed. And it’s more than just Grey Sloan ditching the masks and the COVID-19 protocols: The OR is buzzing with surgeries! No one is having mental breakdowns on benches! Meredith isn’t a doll anymore! We really did it, pals. It’s time to hopefully move on to bigger and better things.
For Meredith, might those bigger and better things be located in Minnesota? She hightailed it out of Seattle for a bit to meet with Dr. David Hamilton, or, as Webber calls him, “Minnesota’s prized-tumor guy,” because he’s dedicating a library to Ellis Grey. I feel like we walked through the valley of season 17 to be rewarded with Peter Gallagher — the Sandy Cohen — joining the ranks of Grey’s. Just eat all the bagels and schmear you have available because, and I say it again, we really did it. Of course, Webber and Bailey are nervous that not only will David be showing her this library, he’ll also be offering Meredith a new job. They can’t afford to lose any more surgeons, and they keep calling her to make sure she isn’t abandoning ship. They aren’t wrong to worry: It doesn’t take long for David to reveal his true intentions for bringing Meredith out there. Yes, he dedicated the library to his old friend, but he also built a state-of-the-art research lab, named it the Grey Center, and wants Meredith to have it. Sure, he’s impressed with her mini-livers and reconstructed abdomens, etc., but he’s currently developing an experimental surgery to possibly cure Parkinson’s disease, and he needs a surgeon to become the face of it and persuade the FDA to give him approval. Meredith asks why he, a surgeon, can’t do that himself. It turns out that the reason he’s so passionate about finding a cure for Parkinson’s is because he has it.
That lab certainly is something. Wouldn’t it be a real full-circle moment to have this dark and twisty woman leave Seattle for good for something that has been described as “bright and shiny”? And yeah, sure, helping to cure Parkinson’s seems cool too. There is one other thing that might persuade Meredith to actually consider this offer. While out to dinner with David as he wines and dines her in hopes of getting her onboard, she spots a familiar face: Dr. Nick Marsh.
Can you believe it?? After all this time, Grey’s Anatomy is bringing back Nick! Sure, he was in only one episode back in season 14, but the chemistry between Meredith and the handsome transplant doctor whose life she saved was unreal. It was honestly a shock that they didn’t have him stick around for multiple episodes that season because he was very swoony with his flirting, and his raising his niece because his sister couldn’t, and his wanting to be a shoe salesman in another life. And, more important, it was the first time post-Derek that Meredith actually imagined the possibility of falling in love again. Nick Marsh did that. And now, years later, she bumps into him in Minnesota.
This guy is insanely confident. When she gets back to her hotel, Meredith’s escorted to the bar — and there he is, waiting for her. The chemistry between the two of them is still very much there. It is palpable. Truly, what a pleasant surprise. However, Meredith does want to make it very clear that she isn’t sleeping with him. First, she tells him she’s seeing someone, but then immediately backtracks. Apparently, she and Cormac dipped their toes into some dating, but his younger son, Austin, began having panic attacks after learning about his father starting to move on from his mother so they called the whole thing off. I do sincerely feel for anyone patiently waiting for a Meredith-Cormac romance because it seems like you’ll be waiting for a long time. Sorry for your loss!
Anyway, back to Nick! Meredith is single, but she still won’t sleep with him. That doesn’t mean the conversation isn’t lovely. She tells him about almost dying from COVID, and he obviously — thanks to her saving his life — knows what it’s like to be a “miracle” and understands the pressure that comes with being granted a second chance. He even walks her to her hotel room at the end of the night, and they can’t stop smiling at each other. Oh God, they are going to hook up, and it is going to be glorious.
So yes, perhaps Webber and Bailey really should be worried about Meredith moving to Minnesota and losing another surgeon (and their friend, I guess). It’s not as if interviews for doctors to replace Avery, Koracick, DeLuca, and Jo have been going well. They’ve been going terribly, to be honest. That is, until the hiring committee — Bailey, Cormac, and Maggie — meet with plastic surgeon Dr. Lin. She seems great. She has never been the head of a department, but she doesn’t mince words as to why Grey Sloan needs her. And then they literally need her: Webber bursts into the interview because a guy exploded a firework directly into his face and he needs a plastic surgeon to save his life. I guess this hospital had only one plastic surgeon this whole time? Regardless, they give Lin privileges, and she gets to work in the OR while also continuing her interview with Bailey, Cormac, and Maggie. She is very good at her job. You know who isn’t? The resident assisting her, Schmitt. After the surgery, Bailey offers Lin the position of chief of plastics, but she turns it down. She tells them she relies a lot on residents to help her do her job, and the residents here clearly aren’t up to snuff. Oof, that hits Richard where it hurts the most. He promises Lin he’ll get them back into shape; they fell behind because the pandemic kept them out of the OR so much. “You have my word,” he tells her. Wasn’t Meredith supposed to be running the residency program? Maybe that explains this whole situation.
In other news: There is another Grey’s wedding to attend. Who is getting married now, you ask? Teddy and Owen. Finally. After all these years. And all those sex voice-mails. What a lovely story to tell the grandkids one day! They actually try to have a little ceremony in the park with just their kids, Owen’s mom, and that abdominal reconstruction herself, his sister Megan. Unfortunately, the priest doing the ceremony gets run over by a bunch of bikers doing an undies bike ride during the Seattle Phoenix Festival and then dies on Teddy and Owen’s operating table. Wow, I really missed writing sentences like that over hiatus. Anyhoo, obviously, people are upset. Your priest dying right before pronouncing you husband and wife would be looked at by most as a terrible sign. As if Teddy and Owen needed any more of those!
Megan saves the day. Of course she does. She is a breath of fresh air on this show, and it would be nice to have her around more. And maybe she will be, now that Grey’s Anatomy decided to ruin one of the very few happy endings this show has ever bestowed on us by breaking up Megan and Riggs. After everything! It’s a real bummer. She seems okay? Megan gets ordained online, and Owen brings Teddy to Joe’s Bar, where she is surprised by all of their friends and family, and those two finally get hitched. It’s about time someone got married in Joe’s Bar, isn’t it?
The OR Board
• Link spends the entire episode brooding about Amelia’s rejection and then trying to persuade her to marry him. First of all: Why? Second of all: It seemed like Amelia’s problem last season was less that marriage was suffocating and antiquated and more that she doesn’t want more kids while Link very much does. Wouldn’t that explanation satisfy Link a little more? Instead, Amelia tells Link she loves him but can’t marry him. Link thinks it’s really over this time. “That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard,” Jo tells him. Jo, you have no idea.
• Speaking of Jo, her entry into the single-working-mom world is a bumpy one. She has for some reason dyed her hair blonde and maybe not brushed it in a year? She’s a mess, and she never makes it out of the parking lot because she feels too guilty over the thought of leaving Luna at day care. She’ll do better next time.
• So when are Jo and Link going to hook up?
• Ellis Grey pops up in Meredith’s anxiety dream about not doing anything extraordinary after surviving COVID. That feels like the most on brand.
• It was quite endearing to watch a bumbling, nervous Cormac try to set up a dinner for himself and his boys with Bailey and her family. It’s awkward at first, and Bailey tries to avoid it. But later Cormac opens up about Austin’s panic attacks and not knowing how to help him, and she invites the Hayes brood over. It’s very sweet!
• Maggie and Winston have honeymoon-sex injuries, and I’ve never been happier for them.